Tufts' planned children's hospital closure sparks uncertainty for workers, patients

Amid the planned closure of Boston-based Tufts Children's Hospital, employees and patients are raising concerns about the plan's rollout, The Boston Globe reported March 20.

Tufts announced its decision in January to close the 41-bed hospital, citing a smaller demand for pediatric care and a larger demand for adult care. The current pediatric inpatient space would ultimately be transitioned to adult inpatient space, and Tufts is coordinating with Boston Children's to transfer care. The hospital plans to maintain outpatient pediatric specialty clinics, as well as neonatal ICU and pediatric primary care services on site. 

Under the hospital's original plans, inpatient pediatric beds are slated to stay open until July 1. However, some workers have given notice to leave their current jobs, meaning the closing date could be moved up, physicians and nurses told the Globe.

Daniel Rauch, MD, chief of pediatric hospital medicine, told the newspaper, "People feel very insecure about the viability of the plan."

And Sylvia Yoo, MD, interim director of pediatric ophthalmology at Tufts, indicated to the Globe that she is waiting for more clarity regarding the future of outpatient services before deciding about her job.

Patients and community members have also raised concerns. As of March 21, more than 68,000 people, including patients, had signed a petition against the closure.  

In a statement shared with Becker's, hospital officials said they are "working around the clock with our physicians and staff, and with Boston Children's Hospital, to collaborate in new ways. Changes in pediatric care require new levels of collaboration. As expected, this work isn't easy. However, we remain committed to our intention from the beginning — for our outpatient and primary care services, our specialty care clinics, outpatient surgery, our level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, and our pedi-emergency room to remain open and thriving."

Hospital officials also said they will share any future updates with patients and staff as they are available, and meanwhile will continue to work through the changes with staff, "with the goal of reaching resolution as soon as possible."

The plan still needs regulatory approval, and Tufts anticipates it will file plans with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in April, according to the Globe.

Read the full report here.

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